Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: September 2020

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

 Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month.

I’ve taken a little break with my TBR jar since my classes have started up again. I noticed that the busier I get with classes, the least likely I am to read books that I’ve picked out of the jar. I seem to prefer mood reading when I’m taking classes. However, I still wanted to share a TBR with you because there’s some great books I’m excited to read this month.

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith: This sort of plot where the protagonist wins the lottery is something I’ve seen before. In fact, Lucky in Love by Kasie West had a similar plot and I just got so annoyed at the whole thing. I’ve heard that, in comparison, this one is better than Lucky in Love so I’m excited to try it out.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: I’ve had this on my tbr pile for a while. The size is a bit daunting, but with magic and time travel, I know I’ll probably love it.

The Muse by Jessie Burton: I’m about halfway through this one already. After finishing The Miniaturist, I knew I wanted to read more from Burton. She has a new release coming out early next year. However, in the meantime, I’d thought I’d give this one a go. It follows a young girl, working as a typist for an art dealer, who uncovers a mysterious piece of artwork that’s been lost for years.

Black Heart by Justin Somper: This is the fourth in the Vampirates book series and I can’t wait to continue. I haven’t read the series in over ten years so a reread of the first three is definitely overdue. However, there’s a very real chance that I’ll probably just jump right into the fourth. This series follows shipwrecked twins who stumble upon a pirate ship filled with vampires. 


Buzzwordathon is a readathon hosted by booktubers: Kayla from BooksandLala and Paola from Paola Guerrero. Here’s the announcement for the readathon. This readathon takes place between September 21st to the 27th. Participants have to read books with the keyword “night” in the title. Here’s the books I hope to get to:

Night Film by Marisha Pessl: I’m a bit hesitant to try this one out. I rarely read thrillers but it’s told in a mixed media format which just sounds so cool.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare: I was planning on reading the short story collections, like The Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, before I picked up this series, but it’s slow going on the collections and really, I just want to start the new series. 

Empire of Night by Justin Somper: If I love the fourth book of Vampirates as much as I think I will, I know I’ll definitely want to continue in the series. Plus it worked out perfectly for the readathon since “night” was in the title.

What are you reading this month?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: August 2020 Wrap Up

Sunday, September 06, 2020

August was all over the place, with the start of the new semester. I finally ventured out of the house, and even dined inside a restaurant which was the first time since March. I also had a mini break in the beginning of the month so I decided to use it wisely and read some books that have been sitting on my shelves for a long time. Since school has started up again, I know I won’t be reading as much. However, before the month came to the close, I was able to finish a total of 18 books. Here’s what I read in August:

Rural Voices edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter (3.5 stars): This anthology was filled with a diverse cast of #ownvoices narratives that represent the rural experience. It was a magical anthology that really brings the rural experience to life and tackles the many assumptions people harbor about small towns.

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa (4 stars): The fourth and final book in the original The Iron Fey series was so good. I’m not entirely happy with the ending but overall, the series was so good and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in Kagawa’s fey world. 

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Perez (5 stars): I know this Tristan and Isolde retelling would break my heart so I went into it prepared (or as prepared as I could be). It was so heartbreaking and lovely. The writing is absolutely superb. The final book in this series just released in August so I will definitely be continuing in the series.

Nowhere but Here by Katie McGarry (4.5 stars): I went into this knowing that it was a West Side Story-esque plot that centered around two rival motorcycle gangs. It was so fantastic! I’ve been trying to get my hands on the sequels but I fear they may be out of print since I haven’t been able to find them anywhere.

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg (3.5 stars): The premise was somewhere between West World meets Disney World, which I thought sounded amazing! The execution, however, started a bit slow. With science fiction, I was a bit out of my comfort zone but overall, it was a good story.

Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard (3 stars): To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement, the first two stories in this anthology were repeats from the previous short story collection, and while the book separated the stories with mixed media excerpts, it wasn’t enough to turn it around for me.

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (4 stars): Do I have some new favorite authors? This was such a lovely surprise. I adored this contemporary!

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins (4 stars): I read Prince Charming last year and really enjoyed it. Her Royal Highness follows a modern-day princess forced to dorm with a commoner. Until they both discover they may have feelings for each other. It’s cliché-ridden but endless fun.

Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay (3.5 stars): I remembered almost nothing from the first book but decided to dive right into this sequel anyway since it’s been gathering dust on my shelf for years. It was good but beginning to show its age with some problematic issues. There was also a bad case of instant love but I didn’t mind it so much. Overall, it was good read and I’m happy to finally say that I finished this duology.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (4 stars): So, camping isn’t really my thing so Starry Eyes seemed to narrate all my fears about camping in the wilderness. However, Bennett brought her undeniable charm and banter-filled writing. This romance was absolutely adorable. I’m hoping to read more of her backlist soon.

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel (4 stars): Similar to science fiction, historical fiction is really not my jam either. However, when this book first released, I was drawn in by the setting in France and its pretty cover. The writing was good. However, the plot was rather bleak and it successfully made me cry (books that take place during wartime always make me tear up).

Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service by Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk (3 stars): I had to read this for class. It was a bit repetitive but, overall, an interesting overview of what participatory library service is. 

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (5 stars): When I first finished Vampire Academy, I purchased all of the Bloodlines books. The only problem was that, back then (since I read Vampire Academy when they were first releasing), I never really liked Adrian’s character all that much. Bloodlines is Mead’s spin-off series that follows Adrian and Sydney. And, really, I’m mad at myself for not picking this up sooner. I don’t know what I was thinking back then, but I adore Adrian now (Dimitri probably had something to do with it). This was great!

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (4.5 stars): Bloodlines was so great, in fact, that I immediately started and finished the sequel, The Golden Lily. In comparison, the climax of this one lacked the level of excitement I felt when reading the first. However, it was still great and I couldn’t wait to start the sequel.

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (4 stars): I usually don’t binge series but I was loving the series too much to stop. While this one was great and I love following Sydney’s adventures, I think the direction Mead was taking the series made me pause in my bingeing. I will most definitely be continuing in the series, though.

Fake it Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen (3 stars): Fake dating is one of my favorite tropes (right up there with the only one bed trope). This book was so much fun but I wasn’t entirely convinced on the romance. I mean, they kissed a few times on their fake dates and readers were supposed to believe that based on that kiss and their shared past, that they’re in love now. I didn’t quite buy it. 

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm (3.5 stars): This was so cheesy but I kind of loved it. It was a bit instant love-y but sometimes you just need an instant love romance in your life. Plus, it was set in Scotland and the wanderlust really got to me.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (3 stars): This was another book I had to read for class but I had already had this one of my tbr for a while so I was excited to start it. To be honest, I don’t think I learned anything new. Most of the things discussed in this book was common sense if you’re an introvert. It kind of read like the book was for extroverts to learn more about introverts. However, I’m happy I read it and I knew Cain has written more on introverts so maybe I’ll check out some of her other work too.

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman (9/1/20): To receive an extra holiday bonus, the bookstore staff must sell the most books. Two workers, Shoshanna and Jake, become rivals as they strive for that bonus. It sounds like it’s filled with some cute romance tropes that I’m sure to love!

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp (9/15/20): I don’t know much about this one but there’s five friends, some sort of game, and a deadly weekend. Ingredients for greatness? I think so.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (9/1/20): The blurb says that it’s “perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.” I’ve never read One of Us is Lying but Knives Out was one of my favorite movies from last year so I was easily sold. This follows Avery who receives an unexpected fortune from a mysterious millionaire.

How was your August? Did you read any amazing books?

book review

Great Summer Read | The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman

Friday, August 21, 2020

 The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman

Swoon Reads
Publication Date: 7/31/18
Pages: 305
Source: BookExpo 2018

The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village. When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more. But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan. Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

Elise is forced to move from her perfect apartment in the big city to a small, quaint beach town to help her sister-in-law raise her young child. Even after several years, the family still grieves over the loss of Elise’s brother who was killed in the war. When Elise meets handsome and sweet Mati, it certainly feels like love at first sight. However, Mati is visiting America from Afghanistan and others’ prejudices are set on tearing the pair apart. In The Impossibility of Us, Katy Upperman gives readers the perfect summer read.

Strong Beginning

  • The Impossibility of Us starts off with such a strong beginning that it is hard not to like everything that comes after it. However, as much as the beginning started strong, it was never fully explained why Mati went into the ocean. He simply shrugged it away and I don’t see that as a full answer. Upperman lost an opportunity to flesh Mati out even more right in the first few pages. Readers can infer tons of scenarios which may have been the author’s intention.

Writing Romance

  • Each chapter is either told from Mati or Elise’s perspective. The different point-of-views gives us a look inside each of their minds. Upperman, also, gives Mati’s perspective in verse and Elise’s in prose. This decision is incredibly interesting, making each voice distinct from the other. It takes some getting used to but the Mati chapters in verse are gorgeous and in not so many words, readers will fall in love with him. The steady rhythm of the verse gives an almost melodic tone to Mati which is emphasized through many of his actions.
  • The sexual tension between the two protagonists is so amazing that it's almost tangible. Katy Upperman is able to give us a romance that is as passionate as it is innocent. 
  • A lot of books set near the ocean side seem to always have such amazing descriptions. Upperman gives readers the sense they are really there, playing catch with Elise’s dog on the beach. It is so visual and endearing.

Wonderfully Diverse

  • This diverse novel taught me a few things about Islamic culture I didn't already know. Despite being a light-hearted romance, I still felt this story was an important one to tell. We definitely need more diverse light contemporaries. Upperman is a fantastic storyteller. Despite being a lighthearted romance, there are still some heavy themes the characters deal with like death and cancer. However, these themes aren't primarily at the forefront. The themes help each of the characters develop in different ways which is interesting to see. Most interesting is to see Elise’s family dynamic after her brother is killed in the war. The side characters will win your heart as easily as Elise and Mati does. 
  • As much as I wished Elise’s mother would look past her prejudices eventually, her character arc was the most believable but also a bit sad. Elise’s development is most pronounced at the end. She grows so much since page one that it is incredible to follow along on her journey. 
  • The ending was so miraculously heartwarming. Upperman leaves the fate of the romance up to the last second where others may find it a bit rushed, I found it sweet. It's such an amazing summer read! 
Overall, The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman is a great summer read that will have you falling in love with a fantastic diverse cast, gorgeous writing, and an amazing romance.

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: August 2020

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month.

I’ve taken a little break with my TBR jar since my classes have started up again. I noticed that the busier I get with classes, the least likely I am to read books that I’ve picked out of the jar. I seem to prefer mood reading when I’m taking classes. However, I still wanted to share a TBR with you because there’s some great books I’m excited to read this month.

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegmund-Broka: I purchased this on a whim last year but the more I look at all their other books, the more I want to read them all. I told myself that I can’t buy any more of their books until I, at least, read one of them. The summer is always a great time to read some great contemporaries!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: I was thinking of reading this for the Reading Rush readathon, for a book that I’ve already seen the movie of, but I ended up running out of time so I didn't get around to it last month. I adore this movie so I’m excited to finally get to it.

Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay: Finishing series is difficult, because it is so hard to say goodbye to the characters and story. This one has been sitting on my shelf for so long, I barely remember the first. The duology is a Romeo and Juliet retelling with vampires.

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel: I thought I’d trick myself into reading more historical fiction by putting this one on my tbr for the month. I rarely feel like reading historical fiction, and if I do, it is usually in the winter months. So there is a very slim chance I will read this.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson: After reading You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle, it really got me in the mood to read books about weddings. So, I’m looking to read Save the Date which follows the protagonist’s sister’s wedding, where everything that can go wrong, does.

Still on Top of the Pile

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Perez: I meant to read this one last month but with the two readathons I was participating in; I didn’t get to it. The third book is releasing this month so I’d love to get to both of them and finish the trilogy. I just know that there’ll be tears at the end.

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa: I raced through the first three books in The Iron Fey series and absolutely adored them. This series is entirely addictive. After this book, there’s a whole spin-off series that I intend to read sometime too. Plus, Kagawa is releasing an entirely new book in this world, coming out next year.

Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard: I’m a big Red Queen fan! Though, unlike most, I was satisfied with the ending of the fourth book. When Broken Throne released, I thought we were getting an entirely new book in the series. It turns out to be only a short story collection. I didn’t quite like the last short story collection of Aveyard’s but I’m going into this with an open mind, hoping it will be great!

What are you reading in August?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: July 2020 Wrap Up

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

July was a whirlwind! It felt like it went by so fast but based on all the books I was able to get done this month, it looks like I was able to stop time in order to finish them all. I have never, in all my years as a reader, read these many books in a month. I’m completely surprised by myself. Looking at the book stack I finished, it’s hard to believe I also finished up my summer course and actually socialized with friends this month. It seems that my little reading slump of the last few months is finally over! In July, I was able to finish a total of 19 books. Here’s what I read:

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige (3.5 stars): I finished the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series. To be honest, I’ve kind of been over this series for a while. I think it was a bit too long for what it set out to do. Overall, though, it was a fun installment.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams (4 stars): Even though I gave The Bromance Book Club four stars too, I actually enjoyed the sequel much more. This book fulfilled the prompt of reading a book in a genre I want to read more of, during the Reading Rush. Undercover Bromance, while keeping the book fresh and fun, also tackled sexual harassment in the workplace. 

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (5 stars): If only I could rate a book 100 stars! As A Curse So Dark and Lonely was my favorite book of last year, I had such high hopes going into this. While the sequel changes protagonists, its direction leads so much possibilities to the overall series. I can’t wait to read the third book!

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh (4 stars): Vampires in New Orleans, sign me up! While I can see why people didn’t like this book, I went into with an open mind and ended up loving it. The ending was very frustrating since it used one of my disliked tropes ever but I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Damned, to see where that trope will take readers. 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (3.5 stars): I don’t know what I expected this to be but it I definitely wasn’t expecting a series of short stories of Norse mythology. I enjoyed it and it made me interested in learning more myths and folklore out there.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (3.5 stars): Several years ago, I read about half of this and just never continued. I finally reread the first half and finished it this month! It’s not my favorite Tolkien. I think the first half of the book was very strong and then the last half lost its way. 

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz (3.5 stars): Stolarz is one of my all-time favorite authors so it pains me to give this book only a 3.5. However, Jane Anonymous tackled some dark stuff in such an upsetting, triggering way that it was difficult to even get through. It shows you how amazing her writing and story-building is, since I had such a strong reaction to this. The book follows the aftermath of a teen who has returned home after months in captivity. It was stress-inducing, frustrating, and poignant. 

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle (4 stars): I switched this from a 3.5 to 4 star because I just cannot stop thinking about it. The characters were so well written. Even though I had some issues with it—primarily that the two characters fought most of the book and my stress levels did not take it well—this debut was so lovely. I’m looking forward to reading more from Hogle in the future.

Slayer by Kiersten White (4 stars): Now I want to go back and rewatch every Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode. Slayer was so reminiscent of the show, as it is set after the events of the TV show’s season finale. White was able to capture the essence of the show in her writing and it made for some humorous and action-packed moments. Slayer is the first in a duology and I definitely hope to snag a copy of the sequel soon.

Stuart Little by E.B. White (3 stars): For the Reading Rush, this book fulfilled the prompt of a book of a movie I’ve already seen. I adored the Stuart Little movie as a kid so I was excited to pick this up. I finished it and it sort of feels unfinished as it leaves readers in the middle of an adventure. 

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich (4 stars): Usually my friend and I try to go to a Broadway show every summer. With the pandemic, Broadway has been cancelled for the rest of the year so I decided to bring Broadway to me. My friend and I got the lovely opportunity to see Dear Evan Hansen last year and it was absolutely fantastic! The book adaptation follows very closely to the show, but it still put me in tears at the end. 

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss (4 stars): I didn’t really know what to read next so I picked this one up on a whim. It may not seem like it, but for those who know me in real life, I’m a bit of a grammar snob. There were some adorable anecdotes and easy-to-understand grammar techniques in here, great for middle school students.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (4 stars): I usually don’t binge series but it was something about this book that made me want to immediately pick up the sequel. 

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (4 stars): While I don’t think this book had as a clear adventure plot as the first one, it was still a solid sequel. It certainly ended in such a cliffhanger that I had to continue reading the series straight away.

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (4 stars): This volume holds the most character development and we seem to get the most depth from the love interests. It was quite interesting to see where Kagawa took the plot and I can’t wait to snag a copy of the fourth book to finish off the original series (there’s a spin-off series too!)

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (2 stars): I’ve had this one on my shelf for so long. This fulfilled the prompt during the Reading Rush of being the color of my birthstone. This was an ARC, so I can’t rightfully say if some of this made it into the final draft (and as far as I can see, it’s also out of print now). However, the writing was so choppy and unbelievably poor. The premise of Night at the Museum set in an art museum in Paris sounded so phenomenal. However, it seemed to be written like readers were supposed to know what Whitney was thinking. Like, the potential was clear with a great premise, but Whitney leaves most of the story up to the reader to figure out instead of putting anything on page. 

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski (4 stars): While I don’t think I liked this as much as The Winner’s Curse trilogy, I still enjoyed it. The plot was a bit too slow but the characters were what made the book shine. 

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler (4 stars): I was so excited about this release that I preordered it. It was just something about a tourist and a grumpy diner owner set in Alaska that sounded absolutely great to me. And it certainly was! I will most definitely be reading anything Morgenthaler writes now.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (4.5 stars): Wow, that was stressful… but in the best way possible. I’ve been waiting for the hype surrounding the book to die down but it’s one of those books that may be popular forever so I finally decided to just read it. I enjoyed it immensely. Tahir’s writing is absolutely gorgeous and riveting. The discussions were both poignant and significant. I will most definitely be reading the sequel!

Eighty Days to Elsewhere by K.C. Dyer (8/11/20): Put romance and travel in the same book—two of my favorite elements—and I definitely have a new favorite.

Bright Raven Skies by Kristina Perez (8/25/20): The third and final book in the Sweet Black Waves trilogy. Am I ready for this? No, I still haven’t read the sequel (but I still haven’t read the sequel yet either because I know these books will just rip my heart out). I need time to prepare to read this lovely installment of the Tristan and Isolde retelling.

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram (8/25/20): I absolutely loved Khorram’s debut, Darius the Great is Not Okay! When I found out there was going to be a companion novel, I couldn’t have been happier! I can’t wait to see what happens in this one; it’s definitely one of my most anticipated reads of the year!

How was your July? Did you read any amazing books? Watch any cool shows or movies?